Happy 2 Year Anniversary!

Welcome to the first Paws for Progress CIC blogpost of 2016

 

We’re delighted that at Paws for Progress we have now reached our two year anniversary as a registered Community Interest Company! What a lot we have achieved in a short space of time. We hope that you enjoy reading about what we have been up to over the last year as we reflect on our successes, and we are also eager to share details about our new initiatives which are under development as the organisation evolves.
As always we remain hugely grateful to all of our generous funders and all the fantastic organisations who support us, and enable us to continue providing unique services to benefit children, young people and animals in need of support.

Over the last year, the organisation has continued to develop and grow in several innovative new directions. Our flagship service at HM YOI Polmont, where young offenders and rescue dogs work together towards better futures, continues to thrive and evolve, and we have some exciting news regarding the evaluation, demonstrating the positive impact that this service has.

Meanwhile, our community based services, which we started delivering in 2015, have been gaining momentum and receiving much interest. We are now working with a range of partners in the community, helping to change the lives of children and young people by engaging them in Human Animal Interaction services with our talented team of dogs. We take great pleasure in sharing our success stories so far in this spring newsletter.

Thank you all for your continued support and interest, our partners, supporters and volunteers play a hugely important role within the organisation and you really do make all the difference to the young people and animals we work with.

 

Paws at Polmont

We’d like to reflect on the excellent year we had in 2015. We had a great start to the year, with the renovation of our training area at HM YOI Polmont, the donation of new equipment for the rescue dogs and the purchase of a new vehicle for transporting the rescue dogs. Early in 2015 we also welcomed an additional member of full-time staff to the team in the new role of Training Instructor, who plays a key role supporting the dogs and students on the course.

We have also been developing fantastic relationships with a range of local dog rescue organisations, many of which are volunteer led, to help improve the behaviour and welfare of dogs in Scotland. Find out more about the dogs currently taking part in the training programme on our Facebook page.

Research evaluation

We are delighted that the evaluation of our flagship rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont has now been completed! We will be disseminating the thesis more widely this year through a range of avenues including journal articles and engagement with the media.

We will be announcing which journals will be featuring articles from the evaluation on our website over the coming months, and will be able to share the full details following release of the publications. The key findings demonstrate evidence that the programme is very successful in meeting its aims, which are to:

a) improve behaviour (in the institutional environment and in the long term)

b) increase educational engagement (attitudes to learning, progress and achievements)

c) Develop employability skills (social competencies; emotional management; ability to work independently and as part of a team; responsibility and decision making; problem solving; working towards targets and goals)

d) Enhance well-being (motivation, self-efficacy and positive pro-social focus)

The comprehensive analyses of dog behaviour and welfare pre and post programme participation showed improvements in both, with effects enduring back in the shelter kennel environment. Almost all participating dogs were successfully rehomed.

You can contact us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk to be added to our mailing list for updates regarding the publication of research focusing on our services.

 

 

Community services

“I honestly believe that if I had been involved in Paws for Progress before coming to prison, I would not be here now.” Student, Paws at Polmont

“This is better than anything I have done… This group has helped me get over my fear of dogs and helped me to develop my skills in sharing and turn taking. The adults in the group have made me feel safe and listened to.” Student, Paws at Barnardo’s 2015.

Following on from the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now providing services for children and young people (aged 8-17)  in the community, working with multiple partners including Barnardo’s Scotland and Mariner Support Service. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, to provide valuable opportunities for Animal Assisted Education and positive Human Animal Interactions.

The response to the services have been extremely positive, with both the young people and their support workers seeing positive change in our students’ social skills, well-being, attitude to education and belief in their own abilities.

Key to the success of our community services is our user led approach; each programme is carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of the young people taking part. We are dedicated to listening and responding to feedback from the young people and children we work with, meaning our services are constantly developing to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Our services involve a team of trained staff dogs, who all enjoy interacting with children and young people. In a mix of practical and theory work, the students learn about a range of dog focussed topics and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs. These projects typically involve sessions one afternoon a week over 6 weeks for a group of 6-8 young people. Additionally, we provide opportunities for our students to continue engaging in our services. Find out more about our community services here.

 

Further updates

New developments

In addition to our services in the community we are in the early stages of developing a range of new prison based services to provide support and training for both female offenders and long term prisoners. We have been piloting services at HMP and YOI Cornton Vale since February, to which the response has been very positive. We have also begun delivering a series of seminar evenings at HMP Open Estate – Castle Huntly for prisoners, staff and members of the public, which we launched with a very successful Dog First Aid evening at the end of 2015.

There is huge potential for developing services which will benefit not only the service users but also dogs and members of the community. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve through expanding our partnership working with the Scottish Prison Service.

Events at Paws

In 2015 we launched our first ticketed events. In September we set the standard high at our first conference, “The Value of Human Animal Interactions“, which took place over 2 days at the University of Stirling and was kindly sponsored by Blair Drummond Safari Park.

Sign up to receive details on our events in 2016  at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Getting involved and  Fundraising

Our volunteers and supporters are a key part of the community we have built at Paws for Progress. If you would like to get involved in our community fundraising team or contribute in other ways then please see our supporters page here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our fundraising for 2016 has got off to an excellent start with several excellent initiatives. This includes a hugely successful Live Music Night which was hosted by the University Of Stirling Live Music Society in March and raised £532, and a fantastic seminar evening “In Pain, Not Disobedient Nor Nasty” with guest speaker Professor Daniel Mills, which was hosted by Tynewater Dog Training and raised £1,200!

A huge thank you to all who have been involved in the wonderful fundraising events so far this year. To see what exciting fundraising events are coming up, check our events page here.

We look forward to updating you on our exciting service developments, events and other news soon. We can already tell that 2016 is going to be a great year for the organisation, and we are so grateful to all of our partners, funders and supporters who make it possible for us to continue improving the lives of more young people and animals. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up to date with our news until next time!

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October update (meet our K9 supporters!)

Welcome to the Paws for Progress October update!

We’ll soon have a full seasonal update for you, but in the meantime we would like to fill you in with our latest news…

Paws at HM YOI Polmont

We have now begun our 3rd cycle of the course this year, which means that our human and canine students will soon be making one another’s acquaintance, building unique partnerships and developing valuable skills. We look forward to keeping you updated on how they’re all getting on. Here are a few sneak peeks of some of the dogs who will be taking part….

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Paws in the community

Our new community services for children and young people have really taken off over the last few months. Check out our new webpage here to find out more.

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Fundraising / how you can get involved

We’ve been very fortunate to have lots of supporters getting in touch asking how they can get involved and help Paws for Progress. As a response to this we have now put together a new webpage detailing several different ways in which you can get involved and support us further. Please click here to view the page.

We’d particularly like to draw your attention to our current fundraising campaign through Local Giving, where you can now make donations online to support Paws for Progress, helping to improve the lives of people and animals in need. Any help donating or spreading the word about this campaign would be hugely appreciated. We’re raising money to contribute to the costs of having rescue dogs on our Polmont course, so any proceeds will be well spent.

Paws K9 Supporters

A huge thank you to everyone who has sent in photographs of their lovely dogs wearing Paws bandanas, we love receiving them! We hope you enjoy meeting some of our Paws K9 supporters in the slideshow below, and please be sure to keep the photos coming 🙂

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That’s all for now folks, thank you as always for being wonderful supporters and we look forward to giving you a more in-depth update soon!

Less than two weeks until ‘The Value of Human Animal Interactions’!

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We are thrilled to announce that Blair Dummond Safari Park will be our headline sponsor at our upcoming event, ‘The Value of Human Animal Interactions‘.

This will be a truly amazing event, in which we will consider the value of positive interactions between people and animals, exploring the mutually beneficial effects of these connections. With less than two weeks to go, there are still some spaces remaining, so don’t miss out – book your ticket now!

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We have been updating our ‘Value of Human Animal Interactions’ event page and releasing further details of the exciting schedule planned for this two day event.This includes speaker profiles and details of the fantastic workshops we have lined up, as well as details of the social events in the evening.

We will continue to release further details here as we approach the event. You can also keep up to date on the latest news about the event via the Value of Human Animal Interactions event page on Facebook, or via Paws for Progress on Facebook or Twitter.

Blair Drummond Safari Park

We are very grateful for the support of our main sponsor, Blair Drummond Safari Park, who do excellent work to promote animal welfare and educate and inspire young people. Blair Drummond Safari Park will also be represented in our interactive workshops, showcasing their valuable contribution to animal welfare and education.

We are thrilled to have such support for this event, with so many wonderful organisations represented across the two days, sharing best practise and expertise in Human Animal Interactions and showcasing the innovative and inspiring work happening here in the UK. This event also provides an exclusive opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of Paws for Progress development and the results of the evaluation of the first prison based dog training programme in the UK.

Very soon, we will be welcoming our delegates to the stunning venue at the Stirling Court Hotel and sharing this brilliant experience with you all. Please contact us for any further information about the event; we look forward to seeing you there soon!

Unleashing Potential

Summer Update 2015

Paws circle logo We’re delighted to have the opportunity to update you on recent developments at Paws for Progress. It has been a busy and productive year so far, and we have lots to share about the Human Animal Interaction and training programmes that we provide for people and animals who need our support.

Unleash potential Our prison based rescue dog training programme has gone from strength to strength, and thanks to the Big Lottery Young Start Fund and Comic Relief we were able to increase our staff team this year. We’re also delivering new projects for young people in the community and expanding our services to new contexts. In July we hosted the first of a series of Paws for Progress events, a dog training seminar and we look forward to hosting our first two day event The Value of Human Animal Interactions on the 18th and 19th of September 2015.

Paws for Progress – Unleashing Potential: Developments

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We continue to be extremely grateful to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) for the excellent support provided to our rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont. In addition to providing a full-time member of prison staff for the cou rse the SPS have also fully refurbished our training area. We welcomed our students back to our new purpose built facilities in April, and the 2nd cycle of 2015 is now underway.

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Outcomes for both the people and dogs involved in our project continue to be very positive, and our excellent partnerships with Fife College and the University of Stirling continue to prove invaluable.

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Thank you also to The Clothworkers’ Foundation and Foundation Scotland for their generous funding of our new vehicle, enabling us to transport rescue dogs to and from the project at Polmont.

We are ever grateful to our generous funders such as The Robertson Trust who provide us with the resources to maintain and enhance our existing projects and to develop new initiatives.

New initiatives in Scottish prisons

We are keen to continue our excellent partnership with the Scottish Prison Service and extend our services to priority groups in custody throughout Scotland. Our user led and outcome focussed approach to the development of human animal interaction programmes mean that there is great interest in the ways in which our services can address the issues faced by ex-offenders, whilst also providing mutual benefits to the community.We are therefore in the exploratory stage of multiple new developments and look forward to updating our supporters with more details later this year.

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Following the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now developing and delivering services in the community. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, providing valuable opportunities for engagement with services through positive Human Animal Interactions.

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Since May 2015 we have been working in partnership with Barnardo’s Scotland in Edinburgh to provide an innovative Human Animal Interaction programme for young people aged 12-17 with additional support needs. We work closely with the Barnardo’s Scotland team to enhance the excellent support they provide, focusing on helping the young people to improve their confidence, skills and abilities whilst engaging positively with learning.The results and response to the course have been extremely positive.

I feel AMAZING each day when I leave

Student, Paws at Barnardo’s, 2015

In our community projects, we involve our team of trained staff dogs who enjoy interacting with young people. The students learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training, and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs, including agility.

He has grown in confidence, developed peer relationships and more trust in adults as well as developing skills required for group work

Support worker, Paws at Barnardos, 2015.

Following the success of our pilot project with Barnardo’s Scotland we look forward to continuing to provide services for young people in the community, with several new developments due to begin this Autumn – more details coming soon.

Development Summary

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As you can see, Paws for Progress is taking a preventative approach with young people in the community in addition to a rehabilitative approach within custodial settings, and retains a strong focus on enabling the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. Our initiatives are designed to be mutually beneficial, providing direct benefits to participating dogs and providing valuable education to increase understanding and improve the care provided to dogs, thereby having a significant impact on the welfare of many more dogs in the UK. Our programmes also provide considerable benefits to society, by engaging our participants in charitable activities which encourage pro-social identities, unleashing the potential of young people and ex-offenders to contribute positively to their communities.

Events & Fundraising

Seminars

Thank you to all of our speakers and guests who attended our July seminar last month, it was an excellent evening and going forward, we will be holding several seminars a year on a variety of topics, with a focus on Human Animal Interactions (HAI). Keep an eye on our seminar page here as well as our Facebook page for details about upcoming seminars.  

The Value of Human Animal Interactions

We are thrilled to be hosting a two day event focusing on “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” on the 18th and 19th of September. This is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners and those interested in Human Animal Interactions (HAI) to connect with experts in the field, share knowledge and advance their professional development by taking part in interactive workshops and attending talks from a range of excellent speakers. See our events page for more details, including early bird rates (available until 14th August so book soon!).

Paws Merchandise

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We recently launched our new merchandise range with the sale of Paws for Progress bandanas for dogs, which have been going down well with our canine friends. If you would like to purchase a bandana then please email us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Amazon Wish List

We are particularly grateful to the wonderful supporters who have donated hundreds of pounds worth of items from our Amazon Wish List. We were blown away by the amazing response following our appeals for treats, toys, harnesses and educational books for our courses.Thank you for your generous donations; we hope our supporters will continue to help us by visiting our Amazon Wish List and providing valuable resources for our students.

Caledonian Challenge

Our thanks to our supporters who raised £300 earlier this year volunteering as marshals at the Caledonian Challenge. This is an annual event held in June to raises money for Foundation Scotland, providing smaller businesses with funding and support.

If you would like to help Paws for Progress fundraise then please do get in touch with your ideas and get involved – see ‘Contact us‘ for details.

Education & Research

Stirling Human Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre

We are proud to be working closely with the University of Stirling as they move forward with several exciting developments in Human Animal Interactions. From September onwards the University is launching a new taught Postgraduate course, the MSc in “Human Animal Interaction”. Details for this unique course are available on the University website. The new MSc will coincide with the development of the Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre, to be launched later this year. We are thrilled to be continuing our excellent partnership with the University and supporting these exciting new endeavours.

Research and Evaluation

Rebecca Leonardi, our Founding Director, has been collecting and analysing data from the Paws at Polmont course over a three year period. She is now at the final stages of writing up her PhD thesis which is titled “Paws for Progress: The development and evaluation of a prison based dog training programme”. We are looking forward to sharing the results with our partners, funders and supporters over the next few months at stakeholder meetings and our events. This research has particular value as it provides the first evidence of the effectiveness of HAI Interventions in custodial settings in the UK. With the support of the University of Stirling we will continue to monitor all of our services to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of our participants, remaining outcome focussed in our service development.

Further updates

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We were honoured to welcome the Earl of Wessex to our dog training course during his recent visit to HM YOI Polmont. It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to share their experiences working with the rescue dogs, and we feel privileged to have had such a distinguished visitor take an interest in the work that we do. During the visit to our facilities he met the young men who are taking part in the current programme and observed a training display with the dogs. The visit was a great success and we are very grateful to the Earl for his interest and time.

Thank you to our partners, supporters and funders

As ever we are very thankful for the many individuals and organisations that support our work, including the range of guest speakers who visit Paws at Polmont and the many organisations that provide work experience and volunteering. We would also like to thank all of those organisations who have provided funding to us; without you we could not carry out the crucial work that we do (see here for a list of our funders, partners and supporting organisations).

Our thanks to all our supporters for helping us achieve our aims; enhancing the wellbeing of people and animals, and promoting and supporting positive human animal interactions.

With best wishes from all the team at Paws for Progress – we look forward to updating you further soon.

Event schedule now available for “The Value of Human Animal Interactions”

Paws for Progress is proud to present the preliminary programme for our exciting upcoming event “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” which will be held on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th of September at the Stirling Court Hotel. This is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners and those interested in Human Animal Interactions (HAI) to connect with experts in the field, share knowledge and advance their Continuing Professional Development by taking part in interactive workshops and attending talks from a range of excellent speakers. We will be focusing on the value of HAI within a variety of settings including healthcare, education and rehabilitation.

Follow the following link to see our full preliminary programme

For more details on the event see our event page

Please get in touch with us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk with any enquiries.

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We have guest speakers attending from organisations based throughout the UK, you can find out more about the organisations they are involved in by clicking on the links below.

Rebecca Leonardi, Paws for Progress

Elizabeth Ormerod, SCAS and IAHAIO

Belinda Johnston, Our Special Friends

Joanne Williams, The University of Edinburgh

Lesley Winton, Fostering Compassion

Selina Gibsone, Dogs for the Disabled

Tracie FaaThompson,Turn about Pegasus

Kerri Bee, SPPOT

Ruby Shorrock, The Trusty Paws Clinic

Marion Janner, Star Wards

Jeni Lennox, Dementia Dog

Katie Bristow, People & Animals

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We look forward to welcoming you to our event this September

“The Value of Human Animal Interactions” Event

Sept event

The Value of Human Animal Interactions

Paws for Progress are delighted to invite you to join us at our exciting two day event coming up in September, where we and our guests will explore the incredible relationship that people have with animals and the mutual value of positive Human Animal Interactions to both parties involved.

On Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of September, Paws for Progress are hosting an event focusing on “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” at the Stirling Court Hotel.  This exciting two day event gives us the chance to bring together multiple organisations and individuals with similar interests from around the country. It will be a brilliant opportunity to share details on the development and evaluation of our positive Human Animal Interaction programmes at Paws for Progress, and to hear about the development of other organisations and projects within the Human Animal Interaction and Animal Assisted Intervention fields.

Unleash potential

The event will provide valuable networking opportunities, engaging workshops and talks from an excellent range of guest speakers who will discuss the value of Human Animal Interactions within a variety of settings including healthcare, education and the community.Featuring talks from Rebecca Leonardi (Paws for Progress / University of Stirling), Elizabeth Ormerod (SCAS), Jo Williams (University of Edinburgh), Belinda Johnston (Our Special Friends) and Lesley Winton (Fostering Compassion).

Interactive workshops will be facilitated by representatives from a range of organisations including Turn about Pegasus, Dogs for the Disabled, Dementia Dog, Star Wards, SPPOT, People and Animals and many more.  We are truly delighted to have so many fantastic organisations involved!

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For more information about the event then please click here and to book tickets click here. Early Bird tickets are currently available, so please don’t hesitate; book now while this fantastic offer lasts!

There will also be the opportunity for organisations attending the event to set up stalls, free of charge, at the event. If you are interested in doing so then please email us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk for more information.

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We look forward to welcoming you soon for an excellent two days of learning and sharing experiences.

With best wishes,

The Paws for Progress Team.

Human-Animal Interaction

The University of Stirling is offering a new Masters programme in Human-Animal Interaction (HAI), commencing September 2015. The University’s taught MSc/postgraduate diploma courses provide excellent training for a research career or for professional development.University of Stirling

This course introduces a broad range of topics and considers human-animal interactions across contexts, from pet owning to animal assisted interventions, zoos, farms and conservation. It will cover interdisciplinary approaches and a diverse range of methods used to research our relationships with other species.

For more information please see http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/programme-information/prospectus/psychology/humananimalinteraction/

Psychology at Stirling was ranked 3rd in Scotland (and 18th in the UK) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and was one of only four UK institutions ranked as outstanding for research impact. The division has a vibrant research culture and offers exciting opportunities for taught postgraduate students to integrate with the research community.

Ellie H5Paws for Progress was developed in partnership with the University of Stirling, and we continue to be grateful for their excellent support. We are really excited to be involved in the development of the Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre and will continue to work in partnership to evaluate our initiatives.

Human-Animal Interaction is a vital field of research. Humans share this planet with other animals, and our interactions are at the core of our everyday lives. For many of us, animals are considered members of HAIour family, both living with us and sharing in our lives. We farm and eat animals, we keep them as working companions (e.g. guide dogs), as models for humans in laboratory research (e.g. disease and toxicology), use them in therapeutic contexts, and in education, entertainment and ecotourism. Depending upon our perceptions and attitudes towards animals, and in relation to the impact they have on us and the environment, we may actively attempt to understand them, conserve them, domesticate them or eradicate them. Despite the ubiquitous nature of human-animal interactions, and research that falls under this umbrella term, interdisciplinary links are rarely made, providing an incomplete understanding of the interactions, and the mechanisms underlying their costs and benefits.

As such SHAIR’s Mission is “to re-write our understanding of ways in which humans and animals interact, the mechanisms underlying the costs and benefits of interactions, and to develop methodology for evaluating interactions and promoting positive outcomes”.

Please share details of these exciting developments with others who are interested in Human-Animal Interactions and help build and strengthen this vitally important field of research.